Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still atop the Scotia North Division. And, no, there’s not yet a good enough reason for fans to panic. However, as the Leafs continually find ways to lose to clubs that aren’t supposed to be beating them, that’s simply a pattern they have to break.
27 games into the 2020-21 season, Toronto sits at 18-7-2 with a .704 points percentage. Two games in hand, the Winnipeg Jets are now 16-8-1 after outplaying the Maple Leafs in the first of this three-game set
While many were quick to point to all the reasons why Winnipeg won, especially in the way of Connor Hellebuyck’s 36-save performance, the focus should be re-directed towards how Toronto lost.
The Maple Leafs have proven to be a powerhouse this season. Their goals for per game of 3.44 is second in the entire league, behind only the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Their goal-scorers are doing their job, regularly.
So, what seems to be the problem? Well, their goals against per game of 2.48 ranks them 7th in that category at the moment. Good, but not strong enough for a team looking to contend. Also, collective success among all three goaltenders is helping cover up more recent blemishes on one of their stat lines in that respect. And, this time around, we can’t blame a scenario full of back-up struggles.
While rosters win and lose as a team, individual stats do come into play as to what culminates towards the overall effort. For instance, if Auston Matthews wasn’t on as torrid of a pace as he is, we can assume his Maple Leafs wouldn’t be scoring as much as a group, either.
In that same respect, the types of performances they are getting from between the pipes matter. An off game here or there is to be expected — of any athlete, at that. But once standards are set, the picture becomes a lot more clear as to what’s working and what might not be.
It would be easy to look to Michael Hutchinson or Jack Campbell and wonder what more they can be doing. Yet, they’re not the issue. When the focus shifts to Frederik Andersen, though, some obvious signs are simply too blatant to ignore. (Stats courtesy of: NHL.)